Fela Durotoye shares heart felt life story about how his life changed drastically by following his dreams in God’s way to achieve a purposeful living.
Culled from Icampus.
My job is all about transformation
I activate and manage transformation. I reach out to people to see need for transformation and to know the way to go about it and then to see how it carried out. We do it at three levels. At the national level, that is, how to transform a nation, how to transform Nigeria to become a place for all. Transformation at the corporate level is about how to transform an organization to becoming what the world is looking forward to; and finally we transform individuals that do not know what they are made of or even where they are heading to, we transform them to become great leaders. We are able to identify various products that enable you to achieve your goal, I get paid one way or the other. So many companies come to me and say listen Fela, I need you to mentor us and teach us how to go about certain things, some people will pay for such job. I’m also a speaker in organization, so I run strategy. I sit down and think of new strategies on how companies can gain their stand in the market. We also run programs as a consulting firm, we work with the nation. Even state governments call us and say can you help us see how we can transform? So we do business with the government, individuals and corporate bodies.
My gift is the reason people come to me instead of thinking of the solution themselves.
Well I guess everybody is gifted in one area or the other. For instance, everybody cant sing. Technically speaking, everyone has the capability to do a lot of things but there are some people that once they find their gift, they begin to excel and do great things naturally. They create value with the solutions that they bring along, so I have seen organizations grow from the loss position to a million naira profit position in one year and I’ve also seen organization that could not believe that they could double up their balance sheet size recover. They told us that look, our people did not believe that we could double up and we started and at the end of 10 months they more than double their balance sheet size and the CEO sent me a text and said we have accomplished your goal. I have heard one CEO say what is it that Fela Durotoye says to you that I‘ve not said before and then people say, we don’t know sir, but there is a way he says it that causes us to believe it and achieve it; that is what I call gift.
Life at the beginning, living opposite a toilet, I got married in 2001 on my 30th birthday and my wife and I were living in a one – room apartment at Ikoyi, in the boys quarter of a flat. It was an apartment that had no other door aside from the one door apart from the one at the main entrance and that was opposite the toilet everybody in the house was using. We didn’t have anything apart from bulb that was on the ceiling and, truth be told, we had to share a public kitchen. We didn’t have a T.V. or A.C. I could not open my wardrobe because I didn’t have one.
What God told me was that its not what you lack that will slow you down, its what you have and don’t know how to use
I gave out everything I owed when God actually told me to go and set up a Christian Lifestyle and Entertainment Mission life, Osun state, and to leave the consulting job that I had. After that he gave me revelation to go start my own company. I laughed when God gave me this revelation because how can one start a company without having a desk or table at least. I didn’t even have an office; but God told me two things I ll never forget, he said you don’t need what you don’t have to get what I want to give you. If you don’t have it you don’t need it. It was so hard to believe, because I was thinking that how do I operate without having a chair and a computer and one of the first thing that he told me was that, it’s not what you lack that will slow you down, It’s what you have and don’t know how use. I was thinking what do I have? Yes, I have ideas on how to write their business plans as at then and the second things was that I had a discount that I could offer my client to use their computers to write their business plans and that was exactly what happened. My first four clients, I actually charged them based on the skills that I had in writing business plans and I offer them discount to use their own computers to write them. So, ultimately, my business started even though I did not have a computer because I had the skills that others need. When I got my first computer, I didn’t have enough money. All I had in my savings was N60, 000. A laptop, printer and all that will cost more than N180, 000 but God told me the second time and said it is not what you lack that will slow you down but what you have and don’t know how to use it and I thought within me and said, what do I have? He said you have good will with a young man that sells computer. He reminded me of a man that I had once helped and I went to him and he said, Fela, it would be pleasant to help you so the guy collected the N60, 000 and four post dated cheques and he gave me a laptop and a printer. So I used the laptop and the printer to generate the income that I used to pay him. I don’t know who is reading this thing and thinks he or she does not have what it takes. I want to say that they already have what they need to take them to the next level. It may not take you all the way to your dream but it will definitely take you to the next level and when you get to the next level, you will continue to move higher, so STOP waiting for all that you need for your dream to come to pass. If you think it is time for you to start that business and you don’t have enough equipment to do so, you don’t need it. Also remember that the owner of Tantalizer didn’t start with a eatery. She started with her personal kitchen in Festac and they moved to their security post and from there they moved on. Every great man must have learnt how to make use of their time and they all have humble beginning. There were days that my wife would want to take her bath and there would be someone in the bathroom and she would have to rush down to her father’s house to take her bath. I would say that if looking for N5 to feed in year 2001 was not humble, then I don’t know what is. I didn’t have a kobo, I had resigned from Philip Consulting in 2000, and at a time, I had no income.
First of all, I didn’t quit my job because of another better offer. I left to start Christian Lifestyle and Entertainment Mission. I went to build a Christian leisure centre called Eden, in Ife, So I took every things that I ever had, my TV, sound system suites fridge, everything went into that place. I also had about seven suits while I was leaving Philip Consulting but God asked me to give everything out. So, there I was, with absolute nothing left apart from a carpet in my room, a mattress on the floor and a dust bin by the side of my bed. My cousin gave me a fan that had a plastic blade but didn’t have a cover. Whenever people get married they go on honeymoon and enjoy themselves but my wife and I couldn’t afford it. We left and went into our humble abode, there was not enough space for my wife to bring her load from her father’s house, even my cook had a room facing our room. You can imagine that there were security men, gateman, cleaners, and all that and yet we share the same toilet and every time I bought a new towel they would say, well done we love your new towel. You have to come out of your room, pass through where people are before you can get to the toilet.
I had one pair of jean, one corduroy, and three shirts. When I moved to Victoria Garden City (VGC) I didn’t need a bag to pack. I had a major breakthrough in 2001 and it caused us to move to a flat in VGC.We move there in a jetta and the entire family moved once and inside of the boot was mattress. Apart from my mattress, there was nothing. We had two bed sheets, and we used one of the bed sheets as window blind. When I call the name of my wife, you will hear the echo because the room was totally empty. So if that is not humble then I don’t know what humble is.
The night I had N5 biscuit for dinner.
There was a day that I had not eaten a meal and I had no clue of how I was going to survive that night and fortunately, I was one of those people at a very early time in my life that God already told me that I am sustainer, you will not meet anybody for anything. And here I was in the middle of nowhere. I had nothing to eat and there was nobody I could cry out to and I was about to lay down on my mattress and my mattress was covering a hole in my carpet and as I was about to lie down. I heard in my spirit, you have to rise and lay your bed, kings do not sleep on unmade bed. I just laughed and said to myself, as I am right now, I cant move, and God said, Son, you are a king, rise and lay your bed, as I lifted the mattress, I found a neat N5 note in the hole. Believe me; I used to sweep my carpet every morning by myself. That money was a miracle as far as I was concerned. I picked it up and I ran to the nearest Mallam, and I bought one packet of cookies biscuit, as I tore the biscuit wrapper to devour the biscuit. I heard again, kings do not eat on the road. I was frustrated, what is this king thing all about, but anyway I obeyed and walked back home and arranged the biscuit in a plate and went to one of my neighbours that had a fridge and he gave me cold water. I laid down and blessed the biscuit and I started eating the biscuit one after the other. I would eat a bit, put it down on the plate like a king. I can never forget that. A year later, I was driving on the same road, and I saw that Mallam that sold the biscuit to me and the guy said to me, lipe don better pu you oh now (life don better for you now). I asked wetin happen, and he said you no dey come buy am for biscuit again (laugh). That was one of the things that would never leave me. Interestingly, during my partnership with God, I came to discover my life as a Kingdom builder, an Institution and a Generation and she said, think about the word, kingdoms, national Builder, institution and all of a king, and I came to realize that what God was saying was that I was going to be a General Builder. Till today, people call me king Fela but they do not recognize the kind of king that I am. I cried the day my friend told me all I do was work day and night with nothing to show for it. Gratitude and humility are what I feel when I remember my humble beginning because I realize that I’m not better than anybody else. It helps me also never to look down on anybody. For two reasons, first, I was not a lazy man when I had no money and one night one of my friends wanted me to go party with them and it happened to be the night that I just got my computer, I said no and chose to stay back and work. I was still working as at when they came back. He angrily switched off my laptop around 3am, and said you will just be working, working, working, night and day and there is no result. He probably was tipsy, but he didn’t realize what he had done, I didn’t even know when I started crying, and I asked God, how can I be working without having the evidence of reward? And God replied and said my son, I will so bless you that people will humble themselves to come ask what it is that you are doing. And today, so many people have come to ask me same question. I know how it is to be hard working and truthful and yet there is no result. So I don’t look down on anybody. I also recognize that, the fact that you don’t have anything today does not mean that, that is what you are. Many times the state we are is not where we are going to but it is just where we are passing through. I’m not telling you a story of fable. I’m speaking from my personal experience in life. So when I see people in a place or position that seem like where they don’t want to be, I’m sure they will not spend much time in such place, rather they will move on to the next level. Never treat a man according to the place he is currently, because he is not going to be there for long, but the memories of those things that you do to him will remain with him forever. That is why I tend to treat people as if they are everything, so that one day, when they become something, they would say to me that Fela, when I met you, I had nothing, yet you treated me so well.
I used to drive my wife all over Lagos but today I have bought her seven cars. I met her before the name Tara became a Tara brand as most people know. I met her in our church, House on the rock in 1999 when I was twenty eight and the half years old and she had only done about 13 brides and I was at Philip Consulting as at that time and I could remember that I had sleepless night trying to help her build her brand. Tara was a more experienced Christian than I was. I had only been a Christian for about a year and half when I met her and so one of the things drew her us closer was when I started hearing God and he wanted me to leave Philip Consulting where I was doing extremely well. Everyone thought I was crazy, leaving such a job and saying God had called me to then go out and set up a life on my own. I didn’t even know how to hear God well and also how to understand him, and through out that time, she was my prayer partner.
I’m not attracted by the outsider.
My wife made the grace of God in my life to be more colourful because she is such a person that wishes me success above all things and you can trace it in every things she does. And lastly, my father died because of an extra-marital affair. He had a great marriage but at one point in time he cut it off and left his home, few years later he died. He even died some days to when he was supposed to return home to my mother. He died a mysterious death because the lady said, if I will not have you, nobody will. Few years later, the woman ran insane and was saying all over that she killed my father. So now that I’ve seen what a strange woman can do to a man, it makes sense to stay in one place so I don’t put so many life at stake. Creating balance between work and family. First will say it is a priority. I worked from home and still do even though I have a huge company at Lekki but I prefer to work at home. I’m a traveler but every time I travel, I see to it that I speak to my wife about three to four times a day if not more, when I am at home, I try to create an unforgettable moment for my family whenever I am around. We do not permit tears in our house no matter what. We make it as exciting as possible, and when i am around, i make sure that my kids do their home works. If i am home and I am holding a meeting and one of my children come to me, I would stop that meeting to attend to my child likewise my wife. The story of my father’s death He died in 1982, I was 11 years old. It was so devastating because he went beyond just being my father, he was my best friend. He left home in 1977. I must have been six years old. He was gone for five years. It was at the point where he was trying to get back to his wife that he died in 1982.
I never knew what it was like to be a child because my father never treated me like one. I was also his best friend, he used to relate with me like an adult . Even when he left my mum at Ife and was at Ibadan, i used to go to Ibadan every weekend. My relationship with him blossomed till he died. He would send his driver to come and pick me up every weekend. I had to learn how to deal with seeing him and the other woman if i wanted to enjoy my dad. But i was always the centre of attraction every weekend i was with him. The woman was not a major thing i will deal with because my father would give us total attention. Before the separation, my father was a professor in physiology while my mother was a lecturer in Geology. After he left the University of Ife, he went to set up consultancy firm in medical equipment and so on. My mum remained a professor at Ife. My mum was one of those amazing human beings that you can ever imagine. I cannot tell you how she did it but you can be such that it was God that helped her. And the most difficult part was that watching a man you of loved die in your hands. By the time my father was dying, my mum was right there. He died with his heads in her hands. I do not know how anybody would have done that. Many times my mum said maybe she should not have let him go. She always says that if she knew that the end of the matter would have been that way, she would have followed him with the other woman, she would never let him go. I do not think that my father followed the other woman willingly, it was programmed. It wasn’t natural. I don’t think that he was in his total senses. His siblings were so upset with him, they had to leave him. We should not have allowed him to go into the hands of the devourer. He used to tell me, don’t worry it is all going to be alright. Meaning that we are all coming back as family. I could see that he always wanted to go back home. His death was one of the most difficult things I had to overcome.
He used to tell me, don’t worry it is all going to be alright. Meaning that we are all coming back as family. I could see that he always wanted to go back home. His death was one of the most difficult things I had to overcome. The family almost reunited My mum had traveled on sabbatical to Belgium and at one point my father was passing through Belgium. And they had a very short meeting and who knew maybe the signal of the remote control did not get to Belgium. I think somehow the love was rekindled and there was a gentleman, Rev. Faniku who was also in Belgium at that time. He took it upon himself and work on it for almost a year and my dad was almost back to his senses. My mum is incredible brilliant and beautiful. There was no basis for comparison with the other woman who was a nursing student. Then he fell ill with diabetes but there was no record of diabetes in our linage. He feels sick on Wednesday and died on Sunday morning. He just finished a meeting with my mother and he told the other lady that my mum was coming back home that she has to leave. She told him if she will not have him than nobody will (kaka kekumajesese, afisawadanu). By evening he had come down with a flu. By Monday he was already really sick, by Tuesday he was in the hospital and my Wednesday he was dead. I have never talked about my dad like this before, I don’t know why I am doing it with you. You must be very special. I learnt that no matter how gifted you are, your destiny can be truncated by a woman. I saw the joy of a successful marriage and I saw the pain of an unsuccessful one. I choose i will go for the joy of a successful marriage. Before my wife and I got married we went to pray and tell God that none of the things that happened in our parent’s marriage would happen in ours. We have tried so far. Before the separation, they won the couple of the year award twice on campus. My father was an incredible brilliant man. He was the youngest professor in Nigeria as at when he became a professor in 1986. He was 35 or 36. My mum was beauty and brain. They were the happiest couple you can never imagine together. A mistake of falling for a nursing student who was not even in his department caused all sort of troubles.